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Photographic gallery.  Thousands of particles under the microscope.
Forest Fire Particles

Forest Fire Particles

This is a tapelift from a home impacted by a near approach of a large forestfire in Northern California. The field of view is dominated by burnt clay (reddish orange) and charred conifer wood (black with large pores) and charred shrubs (black with small pores). A number of pollen grains are also present.

Reflected Darkfield Illumination with Reflection from Substage Condenser


Forest fires burn all of the available fuel, not just tree wood. Leaves of those trees, shrubs and their leaves, herbs, fungus, lichens, animal hair, feathers, and other charred or ashed materials, along with burned soils and pollens are carried by the plume.

Large forest fires create strong winds the lift large amounts of soil into the flames. The fungal and bacterial iron hydroxide associated with the clay is oxidized in the flame which produces a fine grained brick-red surface on many of the particles. This is the "burn clay" particle typical of large wild fires.

Significance in the Environment:

Characteristic Features:

Associated Particles: